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February 7, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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February 7, 2018
 

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By MELISSA RAYWORTH The Associated Press When people ask how my husband and I get through months spent on different continents, the conversation always turns to technology. Just a generation ago, long-distance calls were rare and expensive. Today, a video call costs nothing, and it takes only seconds to connect. We can pop in on each other through- out the day, and supplement those calls with ongoing messaging conversations to share ev- erything from little jokes to big feelings at a moment's notice. It's almost as if we're in the same room much of the time. Only we're not. And that's the challenge: Digital communication brings us a lot of con- nection, and it's probably the reason so many couples are attempting long-distance relation- ships these days. But the illusion of intimacy and physical presence isn't the same as actu- :ally being together. A shared virtual existence comes with speed bumps that couples may not always see coming. CHALLENGE: LACK OF CUES To communicate well, we need to see how iothers react to what we're saying, says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. "This kind of synchronicity of communica- tion," he says, is very important and some- thing romantic partiaers expect. When communication with your partner happens over typed messaging, phone con- versations and grainy video calls, and that ital information is lost, a partner can easily i seem inattentive or out of sync. , And even on a particularly clear video call, ' which seems to offer us a chance to look di- ' rectly into the room where someone is, there's ', a crucial piece missing: If you look at the oth- '.er person's face while you're speaking, they ',see you looking slightly away from them. If i you look into the camera to give them the ;sense that you're looking directly at them, then you're not really seeing their facial ex- impoverished set of clues," Lamberton says. pression and picking up on small, nonverbal "You're going to assume this person is going clues, to remain the same as they've always been." WHAT TO DO: Understand that you're WHAT TO DO: Keep asking questions missing this information, and discuss it. about daily experiences, Lamberton says, CHALLENGE: INVISIBLE CHANGES and check in about changes. And it" you'll It's our instinct to assume that other people be making occasional visits to see each oth- are a whole lot like us and to find ways that er in person, don't just stay in weekend va- cation mode, says Galena Rhoades, associ- we're similar, says Calt Lamberton, an asso- ciate professor of marketing at the Universi- ate professor of psychology at the Universi- ty of Pittsburgh, who studies online behav- ty of Denver. Make sure you see your part- ior and decision-making. "In relationships, it ner in various settings, like at work and with new friends, to know more about their would actually be awkward to seek out ways you're different," she says. "When you talk. daily life. you seek out ways you're the same." CHALLENGE: PROCESS INTRUDES But when we share daily life with a partner ON FUN in person, a fuller picture emerges: We notice Long-term couples, especially those raising differences because they pop up in front of us. a family and running a household together, And in long-term relationships, we notice our have many different kinds of conversations partner growing and being impacted by new on a given day. In the real world, we usually experiences, keep them reasonably separate: We don't talk "In the online world, you lave a much more about which groceries we need fromthe store while we're on a romantic Friday night date. Even in close-proximity relationships, there are times when "those different kinds of talk get kind of mixed up together," Rhoades says. But the problem is more common when you're communications are limited by miles and time zones. WItAT TO DO: Be sensitive. Make room for all the different kinds of conversation, and notice when it's clear which kind your partner is looking to have. And if your part- ner makes a misstep, be patient. CHALLENGE: TOO MUCH ACCESS OR TOO LITTLE "Technology is only as good as the inter- net connection, which is often not so great," Loewenstein says. "It's so difficult not to, on some unconscious level, blame the other people. To direct the frustration to the person you're communicating with." Long-distance phone calls, especially over WiFi, can also include a slight delay. So it's easy to talk over each other without realizing your partner has more to say. ff a lot of calls are marked by this frustra- tion, couples can start associating partner in- teraction with annoyance and stress. On days when the tech connection is per- fect, couples may have the opposite problem: Instant and free access across the miles can make us feel obligated to be in constant touch. We may feel pressure to share all details in- . stantly, which can be exhausting. And that also leaves no time for processing thoughts. WHAT TO DO: Be patient, and re- mind yourself that this amazing technol- ogy remains highly imperfect. The beauty of writing letters, says Rhoades, was that people took time to synthesize and sum- marize their experiences, and found care- fully chosen words. Long-distance couples who grant themselves that same time may f'md that they say more, with more mean- ing, than they do in a constant stream of dashed-off commentary. iThinking of looking for love oaline? Some 'do's, 'don't's for profile pictures Like male peacocks showing offas attractive, says Alex William- heir magnificent plumage to attract son el-Effendi, head of brand for mate, some men on dating sitesthe Austin, Texas-based dating app : I 0st topless mirror gym selfies. Bumble,where women make the Not such a good idea, according first move by initiating the chat af- to dating experts. Women, they say, ter a match. tend to swipe left when they see Ideally, the profile photo also gym selfies, should say something about your Likewise, dating sites are full of life: "Good photos show what you're women's selfies taken from an el- passionate about and show your po- evated vantage point, highlighting tential date what life could be like if their cleavage, they were dating you," says Spira. "Some women think, "If I show That doesn't mean including oth- a sexy picture, he's going to think er people in the picture. I'm sexy.' If you show a sexy pic- "One of the biggest mistakes you ture, he's going to want to hook can make is your first photo being up," says online dating expert Julie you and a friend, or you and a group Spira, founder of CyberDatingEx- of friends," says el-Effendi. pert.com. Shruti Shah, 30, who works in Her advice instead: "Anything public relations, blogs about food that you wouldn't want your chil- in New York and is on dating apps dren, your parents or your boss to Hinge and Bumble, concurs. "It's a see, doesn't belong on a dating pro- red flag for me if every single photo file." is a group photo. It kind of makes So what does make a good photome think that he's not comfortable for dating sites and apps? with who he is in being able to stand The profile photo is the important alone and put himself out there," first impression, and "it should be she says. friendly and approachable" as well Jamie Madnick, 27, a preschool teacher in Philadelphia who met her Keeping the photos focused on boyfriend of over a year on OKCu- you is important in "creating that at- pid, says she didn't like seeing "a traction," says another online dat- guy in a picture with a girl or all ing expert, Laurie Davis Edwards girls. It's intimidating." of eFlirtExpert.com, based in Los For her own photos, Madnick Angeles. Don't waste time with im- says she always included "a full ages of sunsets or anything else in body, because I don't want it to be the brief period of tLme you have. deceiving," and she included travel "If there's one photo that's kind of pictures "because that's a big part of questionable to them as far as at- my life. I want to show them if you traction is concerned, they're on to are going to be with me. expect ad- the next person," she says. venture and expect travel." Good photos that show you and your life are conversation starters. "You're giving people prompts and tools they can work with to ask you questions," says Shah. Oh, and remember to smile. "I definitely like seeing a guy who's smiling in most .of his pho- tos. It just kind of makes me think he is a little bit more approachable and down to earth," says Shah. Some other photos do's and don'ts from the experts: Do have images that are well-lit, in focus, and not noisy or grainy. Do have a close-up of your face as well as a full-length image, so daters can see your body type. Do use captions to identify family members if they're in your pictures. Don't use filters, which can be distracting and make you hard to see. Do allow potential matches to see your eyes. No sunglasses. Don't be so small in your pho- tos that you can't be seen easily, and don't wear clothing that covers you head to toe, such as a ski outfit. Stron through Charles Town for a chance to win! Complete a Cupid's Crawl Passport for a chance to. win a Date Night Basket valued OVER $500 with one-of-a-kind gifts from local merchants! [] Pick up a passport at any participating merchant. [] Visit our participating locations and have your passport stamped by shop staff Each time you make a purchase of $20 or more, you will be entered into our Date Night Package drawing. [] Turn in your completed passport to any participating merchant. Winner will be selected, announced and contacted on Wednesday, Feb. 14. I